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The Eagles fired Doug Pederson and traded Carson Wentz, but the dissection of the end of their era in Philadelphia is far from over.
Pederson, 53, is now having his say in the matter, responding to the reported deterioration in his relationship with Wentz, once considered the franchise QB who was benched for rookie Jalen Hurts late in the 2020 season.
“I do believe that there’s a little misnomer out there where Carson and I were on such bad terms,” Pederson said on NBC Sports Philadelphia’s “Takeoff with John Clark” podcast. “I’ve never felt that way. I’ve always felt like I was gonna do the right thing for the Philadelphia Eagles, but yet I understand what he was feeling and what he was going through. I know there was frustration there.”
Pederson, who led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title three years ago, benched Wentz during the team’s Week 13 loss to the Packers. Hurts, selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, took over for the rest of the season (until the Nate Sudfeld controversy during their Week 17 loss.)
Wentz, 28, had the worst season of his career, recording 2,620 yards, 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 12 games. But his struggles didn’t make the benching easier for the former No. 2 overall pick to take, and he eventually forced his way into a trade to Indianapolis, where he’s reunited with ex-Eagles offensive coordinator and current Colts head coach Frank Reich.
“The only thing I will say – and I understand where Carson’s coming from because it’s difficult,” Pederson said. “When you’re the starter and things like this happen and you basically, you get benched, and our season wasn’t going the way we wanted it to go, and it’s difficult. It’s difficult for any player to go through that. I did it with Nelson Agholor my first year. Obviously different position and all that, but you’ve got to have the conversations. You’ve got to have the open-door policy and you’ve got to communicate, and I felt like we did that.”
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie reportedly has told team brass to build around Hurts for the 2021 season, and Pederson thinks he can be the team’s answer at quarterback.
“A lot like Carson, he’s got such a great leadership style,” Pederson said of Hurts. “Guys really gravitate to him. His work ethic is second to none. I think the coaching staff, if they’re patient with him and really teach and dial things in for him and really tailor the offense around his skillset, he’s gonna have success. He’s a proven winner.”